Bella Emergency


Bella almost died last night.

While Kris and I were cleaning up the house, I gave Bella and Annie each a twisted pig skin treat to chew on. They came in Annie's food bag when we adopted her, so I didn't think anything of them when I gave them to the girls.

Kris had wandered out to the living room to talk to me after I had asked him a question. He looked down as Bella stood up oddly, with her back arched and her back legs stiff. Kris asked, "What's wrong with her?" I looked down at her and thought, "Oh, she just has to go to the bathroom." I hurried to the back door to open it, lest she defecate on the living room rug. When I turned back around to call to her, I noticed the panicked look on her face.

"She's not breathing!" I exclaimed, then rushed over. Kris picked up Bella by the back end and had her upside down, trying to shake the food out. I grabbed her to try a Heimlich.

Bella's belly was quite full, as she and Annie had just finished dinner before munching on their treats. They had eaten their Greenies earlier in the evening, so the pig skin treat was for variation. I couldn't get her to cough up whatever was in her throat.

I squeezed up, just below her rib cage, and each time I tried I heard a little wheeze, but I couldn't get whatever was stuck unstuck.

Kris opened her mouth and tried to get out the piece of food, but couldn't feel anything. We were in a panic at this point. After trying for what seemed like a minute (but was probably 20 seconds), I cried out that it wasn't doing any good. Kris gave me encouragement, as we heard her wheezing each time I squeezed.

I asked Kris to try, watched as he did a few. He didn't seem to be doing it right (he was more squeezing her ribs than pushing up on her diaphragm), so I pushed him out of the way and tried again. I tried to be more violent with the thrusts, but was having no more luck than I was earlier.

As some point I told Kris to take over and ran to find the vet's number. Thankfully, I had actually filed the dog's paperwork, so I knew where to look. I dashed out to call, called the vet, and received an answering machine message listing an emergency number. I hung up and called the emergency number, only to realize I had dialed the wrong number.

I called the vet again, and gave the phone to Kris, as I tried more Heimlich maneuvers on Bella. Her back was still arched, her back legs still stiff, and she was drooling a bit. The line was busy, so Kris called again, cursing the whole time. Eventually the message played, he called the emergency vet number and shouted, "My dog is choking!" when the vet answered. After maybe 3 sentences of conversation, Kris had the vet address and hung up.

During the call, the Heimlichs weren't helping. All I was getting were little wheezes from Bella. When I heard Kris say, "I know where that is," I jumped up, grabbed Bella in one arm and dashed to the front door. Noticing the garbage next to the door, ready to be taken out to the trash can, I flung the door open, and ran out to the truck. It was then I realized I didn't have a shirt on (I had flung it off at one point when Kris was working on Bella), I didn't have shoes on, and I didn't have the truck keys. I whipped back, and ran back to the house, to meet Kris rushing out. "Go, go!" he called. I turned, calling, "Take the other one away from Annie!" He didn't hear me as we rushed to the car.

With Bella tucked under one arm, I opened the car door after Kris unlocked the doors from the driver's side, and dumped Bella on the seat. I took a moment to think, "Where am I supposed to sit?", before I shoved her aside and squished next to her. Kris has started the truck, and was backing out as I closed the door.

I turned to lift Bella onto my lap so that I could fasten my seatbelt. As I did, she inhaled one long raspy breath. Oh JOY!

She started breathing slowly. Very labored and raspy. I held her close to me, calling her name, petting her, and uttering soothing sounds to calm her down. She flopped on my legs for a bit, but as we reached 85, she started to sit up. She was panting after that. Kris was driving fast, getting us to Palo Alto at Oregon & Middlefield very fast.

At about 85 & 101, Bella was alert and looking around. By the vet clinic, she was subdued and panting, but more aware of her surroundings. She wiggled a bit when I carried her into the clinic. She hadn't wiggled at all when I rushed her to the car, so this made me feel good.

The vet's assistant heard us when we came in and came out to the lobby. He took Bella and disappeared for a bit, then called us into an examining room, where Bella was sitting, shaking on the examining table. We explained what had happened. He talked to us, then left to talk to the vet as we petted Bella, trying to calm her.

The vet assistant came back, and asked if we wanted X-rays done, which we answered yes. Off Bella went for X-rays. She returned about five minutes later. We heard her howling in the back, which helped calm us a bit.

As we waited, the other emergency dog came out. Turns out, Percy, a tri-colored beagle, had eaten a king-sized bar of chocolate and had vomiting induced on her. She didn't seem too happy. Apparently there was another beagle coming in after us that had also eaten a bar of chocolate. The night of beagles.

We went back into the examining room when Bella stuck her head through the door. The vet showed us the X-rays, and explained how Bella's stomach was full, her lungs were clear and there was no obstruction in the esophagus. Bella does have a narrowing then widening of her esophagus, so she may be prone to getting food stuck where it narrows back, we were also told.

Bella received an anti-inflamatory shot, we paid the bill and went home.

Annie, in the meantime, had finished her treat, finished Bella's treat, ripped open the garbage bag and eaten the remains of last night's burritos. No way we could be upset with her, as we had left the garbage out.

All in all, a horrible evening, and one I hope to never repeat.

Think You Can Bobsled? Ha! :: Fortune Magazine :: 18 March 2002

Geoffrey Colvin :: Value Driven

Managers may talk a good game, but few have the guts to really run their business like a great sports team.

Committees scarcely exist. They're teams now. Departments are disappearing fast, too -- they've been turned into teams. Which makes sense, because a lot of managers can't speak three business sentences without talking about home runs and strikeouts and which employees hit good solid singles and whose batting average is falling. Hey, that team we've got running this company? They're the 1927 Yankees. They'll be proud of us here on the purchasing logistics team because we're gonna hit the ball outta the park! We're world-class corporate athletes at this place.

And there is not a thing in the world wrong with any of that, except this: Most managers would rather sit through a 99-year budget review than run their businesses according to the real principles of championship athletes. Those principles are excellent guidance for anyone who want to win in business. But most managers can't face them.

With the winter Olympics just over and the baseball season about to start, sports metaphors in business will be sprouting like daffodils. It's an opportune moment to remember what sports can really teach us about winning.

Teams have stars.

One of the favorite people principles of Jack Welch and other hyper-successful managers is differentiation -- the notion that top performers should get paid a whole lot more than mediocre ones. Plenty of managers find this idea almost unbearable. "It disrupts the team," as one said to me not long ago. "How can you have a guy working next to another guy who's making 50% more?"

Get real. Over the past several years, surely the best team in sports -- meaning a group of players who have worked together to achieve extraordinary success at the highest level -- is the New York Yankees. They've won four of the past six World Series. The highest-paid Yankee last year was shortstop Derek Jeter, who got $12.6 million. The lowest-paid Yankee last year was shortstop, D'Angelo Jiminez, who got $200,000. Two guys on the same team with the same job. Most corporate managers would have a cow if you suggested that they pay one of those guys 63% more than the other. But the Yankees didn't pay Jeter 63% more. They paid him 63 times more.

Somehow the Yankee dugout is not a snake pit of resentment -- quite the contrary. The truth is that every team has stars, and everyone on the team know who they are. A lot of corporate teams try to suppress that reality. Winning athletic teams embrace it.

Winners don't carry losers.

Maybe you remember when Jacques Nasser, as Ford's CEO, tried to install a performance rating system for executives. Every manager would have to be rated A, B, or C, with at least 5% required to be in the C category. Not exactly radical, you might think, but it was radical at Ford, where the organization rose up and smote Nasser for his cruel, arbitrary, cold, heartless proposal.

What's amazing is how people who are outraged by Nasser-like suggestions respond quite differently to the performance of ballplayers. If an outfielder can't catch a cold and is batting .125, the fans want him out -- now. He's a really good guy who had a great season in '91? Wonderful, but any manager who kept playing him on that basis would need police protection.

Only 750 players are on the playing rosters of Major League Baseball, yet every off-season the teams make hundreds of player transactions. Most of them involve teams re-signing players to one-year contracts (only megastars get seven-year deals). Do you have to re-sign with your employer every year? How about the people who work for you? On champion teams, most players have to.

The 98th percentile isn't good enough.

An awful lot of companies claim to be world-class. If you can recite your company's mission statement without dozing off, you'll probably get to "world class." Most people have no idea what that really means. At the Winter Olympics, the difference between gold medal and no medal was often less than 2%. Against truly global competition, a lot of stunningly good performers were just not good enough. In the men's 10,000-meter speed skating, the difference between a gold medal and no medal was 1.9%. In the women's giant slalom it was 1.1%; in the four-man bobsled, 0.2%.

A lot of managers claim their companies will "bring home the gold" this year. Terrific, but remember that many excellent competitors went to Salt Lake City (in 2002) and were 98% or 99% as good as the best -- and brought home nothing. By all means, try to bring home the gold, but don't delude yourself about how hard it is.

The sports world is actually full of valuable insights for business people. And, if some people don't want to hear them? That would be a competitive advantage for you. Now, let's play ball.

This is an article from the 18 March, 2002, issue of Fortune Magazine.

Spaghetti dinner inspires writing tips.


On Wednesday night, Kris and I went to Keith and Katie's house for a spaghetti dinner. The dinner was a fund-raiser for the Second Harvest Food Bank, which is a great idea. Lots of bridge friends were there: Lisa, Andy & Michele, Mark and Megan, Hugh & Bridget, Kitty and another friend of Keith and Katie, whose name I don't know.

Kris and I talked for a while with Hugh. Hugh is still looking for a job (anyone looking for a computational chemist?) in the Bay Area. He thinks he'll get an offer for a job with a company in San Diego. He's not thrilled about moving from the area. However, he'd rather not blow through his entire savings.

When I asked if he was excited about the job, he didn't say he was very thrilled. It was doing work that he had already been doing, so it wasn't a new challenge. When I asked him what he'd like to be doing, Kris responded, "Writing!" Hugh agreed, but explained he's had a block. He can write in his journal, but is unable to get writing on things he feels he "should" write about.

We went on to discuss ways to get Hugh writing. We had a large number of suggestions that I really liked, so I wrote them down. As my new policy of saving most everything electronically, the suggestions are now an article named Ways to start writing.

Published my first tutorial.


I made my first contribution to the Drupal project today. I wrote a tutorial (also published on my site) and published it just now. It took me two days to do. I was pretty nervous about publishing such a lengthy first article/page as my first contribution, but I received some good feedback, so I think it'll be fine.

Publishing the tutorial on my site meant I needed to figure out some details with my site. I had the system stripping HTML tags. Unfortuately, I was stripping too many tags: the formatting was lost. I've since added the tags, so it looks good here. I'm pretty excited.

There's a lot of configuration details on the site. I'm trying to keep the base code unmodified so that I can update at any point. We'll see how long I can keep from fixing things.

Finally making progress!


Whoo! I'm finally starting to make progress on this site, both with installing already written modules and writing new modules. The site doesn't look exactly what I'd like it to look like (still having CSS issues) but starting to work them out.

I've installed the quotes module (you can see the rotating quotes in the menu/sidebar). I've also installed a few other modules to play with them (throttle, article, polls).

I also finally finished writing my first module: On This Date. Currently it displays older content that was published on this site "on this date" in the past. When a site has been around for a longish while, it'll display links to nodes (blogs, articles, book pages) that were created a some fixed time ago (ideally a year ago). A problem occurs when the site isn't old enough to have content from a long while ago. It currently has the option to display content from a week, month and a year ago, as well as limit the number of links to content on this date.

I think most people would want to add historical footnotes like, "On this date 100 years ago, the Wright Brothers flew the Spirit of St. Louis at Kitty Hawk." It doesn't do that. Perhaps I'll write that module, too. Call that one "onthisdate" and have a list of events that have already happened that are selectable, then rename my current "onthisdate" to "onthisdatesite". Maybe include them both on the same module?

Eh. <shrug />

Talked to Mike Gull about possibly using Drupal for a rewrite of the UPA site. If I get proficient at writing modules, it'll make pushing for Drupal a lot easier. Sometimes I think, "Poor Mike" - he has a lot of responsibility for work he's been roped into. Hopefully it'll all work out well.

Inspired by!


About 3 weeks ago, Megan Smith showed me The site is the website of an old classmate of Megan's (I don't recall if it was high school or college), and, damn it, I'm impressed. I love the site, I love the idea. "I want, I want! I want one, too!" I think.

Well, I'm a programmer. I build websites. And now I'm inspired, too! And here we go.

Although I find the name iWalt clever, iKitt doesn't work too well. And most people won't be able to spell iHodsden. I'll have to figure something out. Much like iWalt, I'll do forums, code, blogs, photos, links, history, trivia and all the other stuff for my friends and family. I am so inspired!